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There are so many different approaches with regards to how Christians should go about putting their Christian life into practice – and there are even different views on what it means to live the Christian life. Does it mean being involved in a busy local fellowship – attending or even leading the various meetings and projects that the fellowship is engaged in? Does it mean Christian led charity work such as helping with food banks and so on? Does the Christian life mean seeking to gain deeper experiences of the presence and power of God, or practicing spiritual gifts? Or is the Christian life something else entirely?
Most Christians know that living the Christian life involves portraying love, tolerance and forgiveness whilst putting away worldly behavior. But when they try to do this, do they turn to the Ten Commandments and God’s Law to spur them on? Do they prayerfully seek to be filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God? Do they look to ‘Inner Light’ for guidance and energy? Does it really matter, now that Jesus has wiped away their sins and they are bound for glory?
In the middle of what seems to be a lot of confusion, ‘The Illuminated Self’ looks at what Jesus and His Apostles taught about the practical experience of day-to-day Christian living, what the process is, why Christians fail and what happens when failure occurs. Drawing from Paul’s Epistles to the Romans, Galatians and Colossians in particular, the dynamic Scriptural model of human nature and behavior is explored in some depth – something that may also be of particular interest to Christian counselors.
In being a Christian for fifty years, I have found this theme – even though it is a basic theme – to be enigmatic. In the ministries that I have sat under and the books that I have read, very few leaders seem to get the balance of this teaching correct, and incorrect teaching leads to incorrect practices, to walking on the wrong path, and to potential disillusionment and discouragement.
My books on Male/Female relationships are NOT religious books! Although most of my books are indeed the result of my personal inquiries into Christianity, my books on male/female relationships stand outside of the religious framework altogether and are based on well respected psychology theories. They are written in a popular style for ordinary guys trying to cope with the females in their lives and as such they are humorous and politically incorrect. Examples of their style can be found at https://thomaskattesq.wordpress.com/
I paid a visit the other say to the fellowship where I first became persuaded of the gospel, just about fifty years ago this year. But I came away sad and more than a little angry. You see, at one point, the Elder who was delivering the sermon echoed what seems to have become a common sentiment amongst Christians and even amongst Christian leaders – apparently, we Christians don’t need theology! Theology – the word about God. We don’t need it. Apparently. I have heard so many Christians express this sentiment over the last few years as they dismiss any moderately thoughtful conversations about God with a wave of the hand as their faces turn blank and they say something like ‘I don’t know about theology – I just know Who I have believed and that Jesus is in my heart’ And away they go – sleepwalking in the faith.
Worse still it is a sentiment that is increasingly being expressed by leaders – ‘You don’t need the word about God – just ask Jesus into your life!’ Can someone tell me where that kind of sentiment is expressed in the Bible? Is this what Jesus said in the gospels? Is it to be found in one of the New Testament letters? Does the Apostle Paul say ‘You don’t need to get tied up with the word about God – in theology – just trust Jesus and praise Him for the victory!’ Does such a sentiment express Apostolic teaching? If so, show me the passage of writing that says it. Most of what I can see in Apostolic writing is indeed theology.
I was sad because this fellowship used to have a strong teaching ministry that was firmly grounded in the Bible. Its teaching and practice was firmly anchored in the Word about God. Theology informed the teaching that was presented and supplied the reasons for fellowship behaviour, practice and policy. The fellowship did not always get it right of course, we were not perfect by any means, but we were running the right race. Don’t get be wrong – today this fellowship is a popular, well attended, busy, active and thriving fellowship. But it is increasingly sleepwalking into blandness as far as the word about God is concerned.
‘We don’t need to make the effort or get ourselves tangled up in the word about God – in doctrine, in arguments about technical sounding words and ideas. Just feel Jesus and the Spirit in your heart!’ That’s what many Christians say. I tell you that such thinking is laying an axe to the root of the gospel, Apostolic teaching and practice! It does a disservice to Christianity. I cannot think of any other serious discipline in which this kind of self-undermining sentiment is expressed. ‘Let’s build a steel bridge over that wide river – we don’t need to get tangled up in thinking about engineering, we just need to focus on how great it will be when it is finished!’ ‘Let’s become a doctor – but don’t get tangled up in all that talk and technical terminology about anatomy and biology and so on – just feel how great it feels to be confidently helping people!’ What a load of tosh!
I am not saying that every Christian has to be academically minded – but certainly, teaching Elders have to know, understand and present the word about God, they have to faithfully and carefully present it in a balanced way week by week so that those Christians who are not given to reading and study are nevertheless educated and instructed so that they grow and mature and are thus able to stand firm in the gospel and in godly behavior. What did Jesus and the Apostles say? Diligently search the Scriptures! The present day leaders in my first fellowship will argue that this is exactly what they do – follow the Scriptures. But it is often superficial ‘sound-byte’ teaching coupled with repetitive and lilting ‘muzak’ style songs of praise and the mantra-like quoting of key verses of Scripture mixed with ‘busyness’ – where there are lots and lots of projects and activities, some meeting or activity or project every day of the week – activities that give the impression of living the Christian life but which may actually detract from the core business of the Christian life – being set apart in cleanliness.
I feel like shaking the dust off my shoes……
Proof reading to be more laborious and time consuming than I expected. No matter how many times I read and corrected the document on my computer, as soon as I see it a paperback, loads more corrections stare me in the face! There were quite a few little things to modify – commas, apostrophes and so on, with just the occasional word change – but at last I have finished proof reading volume 2 and it is now available on Amazon.
I have now proof read this volume and it is now available on Amazon as a paperback and also as an e-book for Kindle readers and apps.
Just in the process of proof reading volume 2 – AND – I can’t believe this – I have started yet another study!!!??? More about that later!
Christian experientialism is gaining in popularity – it can be seen in most modern conservative Christian fellowships. Christians want to experience closeness to God and they may calm their minds, and let go of the busyness of day-to-day life in order to allow God to fill them with His Presence. Some may speak in ‘heavenly tongues’, or receive other ‘spiritual gifts’. Others may receive guidance directly from God, or deep insight into spiritual realities, whilst others may be ‘caught up’ to God in Transcendent Bliss in Divine Love.
Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians consider that these spiritual experiences form the essence of New Testament Christian living, and lead to holiness, victory over sin and conformity to God’s will. There is a long tradition of Christian experientialism within Judeo-Christian thought and practice, where Christian Mystics in particular seek to cultivate a sense of the Presence of God, teaching the steps that Christians face on their way to closer fellowship with God. This study explores Christian experientialism from a Biblical perspective over two volumes.
Volume one explores what it means to have an experiential sense of God, and presents an outline of the history of mysticism within the church. Principles of Scripture interpretation are considered, particularly in relation to allegorical and metaphorical interpretations of texts. The nature of spiritual authority is considered, as is the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’, visions, trances, appearances and the ‘opening of the mind’. Finally the theme of ‘spiritual gifts’ is explored together with question of whether God still continues to give them in the present day. Paperback 239pp
The second volume explores concepts of holiness and the stages of spiritual development proposed by Christian mystics as leading to an experience of closer fellowship with God. How Christians know and conform to God’s will is also explored, along with approaches that can be used to distinguish genuine God-given experiences. Christian experiential concepts and practices are then discussed and evaluated in the light of Scripture before some final considerations are given to the experience of spiritual desertion and to psychological factors. Paperback 381pp
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Tagged Book, Christian life, Christianity, Consciousness, experience, Gnostic, inner spiritual experience, Meditation, Mysticism, personal experience, religious experience, spiritual experience, spirituality
Christianity and Judaism differ in their understanding of the Messiah – the one chosen and set apart by God to be the deliverer of God’s people – yet both of these religious traditions are looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. But who is it that is coming and what will their impact be? Can these divergent viewpoints be reconciled?
This book suggests that there is more commonality between Jewish and Christian perspectives than may appear on the surface. Drawing primarily from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian New Testament Scriptures, it traces the unfolding story of God’s plan of redemption, reconciliation and restoration of the world to Himself though His chosen people and their promised Messiah. It is an epic narrative of God’s kingdom usurped and then regained, a story that is both uplifting and full of hope but at the same time sobering and fearful, raising concerns for all of us at this present time.
E-Book version now available on Amazon – Hardback and paperback versions also now available